Wild West 2017 - 4: 350-Year-Old Passenger Train (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Wild West 2017 - 3: Nevada Northern, Scene 1 (50 p.)

The video for this series (please set to 1080p quality / full-screen mode):

General information about the Nevada Northern Railway:

Official page, including equipment roster:

Wikipedia page:

Line map:

Wikipedia page of the museum:

Book including historic photographs (Google Books preview, not all pages shown):

February 18 2017

We join the first lineside session of the weekend with #40. The Californian winter storms did not hit as hard as feared, only the wind was a bit unpleasant.

The ALCo double header was waiting under the East Ely coaling tower that morning.

A conductor and his orchestra.

The boss, Mark Bassett, personally took over the switching moves.

ALCos #109 and #105 with ore train in front of snowy mountains.

The passenger cars were located in this shed - some buildings do not seem that old, but all date from the founding years of the railroad 110 years ago.

The original composition of the "Steptoe Valley Flyer" appeared - the train which transported passengers on the mainline between Ely and Cobre until passenger services ceased on August 1 1941. However, it was used again for public specials from the 1950s.

The 1941 timetable with option to change at Cobre:

The train consisted of: loco #40 (Baldwin / built in 1910), baggage and mail car #20 (American Car and Foundry (ACF), built around 1905-07) and first class coach #5, which had seen the light of day as Pullman-built sleeper coach #3 "Silesia" in 1885 and had been converted in 1918.
Overall the train had a combined age of 350 years - the original rolling stock in original surroundings, such state of conservation is only difficult to find in Europe with its turbulent history.

Reversing past the freight car scales...

... and the enormous wooden freight shed.

Crew meeting before departure.

The functionality of these wonderful historic grade crossing signals can be watched on video at minute 10:00.

"Steptoe Valley Flyer" steaming into Steptoe Valley, stretching 100 miles north to south. It is called after Colonel Edward Steptoe, who explored the region in 1854. Obviously, the loading ramp had been burnt.

At closer inspection, this old Dodge turned out to be another railroad vehicle of the Nevada Northern Railway.

We left the historic ensemble - not on the original mainline, but west on the "Keystone Line" which connects to mines near Ruth. The train departed East Ely going forward, only then to be pushed up into the mountains past the town of Ely.

There were plenty of anecdotes to be told along the way. Upon arrival, I managed to capture this pure b/w shot.

The attraction: the tunnel.

Photo stops are much more relaxed than on similar events in Europe. There, you jump out of the train, have one or two run-past, then jump back in. Here, you only stay at about three spots per half-day, sometimes walk on a bit, have multiple run-pasts and photo shoots with a still train.

Already during our introduction, it was mentioned that every group of photographers would include a couple of "mountain goats". And really, a few people climbed the mountainside. During the third run-past I joined the goat herd, already a few feet up the view became really nice. But you noticed the altitude by running out of breath very soon.

The tunnel had doubled as a nuclear fallout bunker during the Cold War - of course no danger emanated from this mushroom-shaped cloud. However, the Nevada Test Site - primary nuclear test site from 1951 to 1992, until 1962 above ground - was only 200 miles away.

I was especially fascinated by the patterns generated by the vegetation. That's why it turned out to be better that not too much snow on the ground covered the character of the landscape.

During still shots, the sun came out. You only were allowed to access tracks with the train safely stopped.

We moved on - or rather returned to the vicinity of the station.

I discovered an old horse-drawn cart – sadly on private land not owned by the railroad - but the similar-aged six-wheel truck with bolted-on pedestals was no less fascinating.
Here ( http://www.cumberlandmodelengineering.com/CMEProductsTrucks.html ) you can find a drawing of a Pullman Palace Car Company truck:
http://www.cumberlandmodelengineering.com/images/Pullman Palace Car Truck 1.JPG

Panorama with Steptoe Valley (to the right).

Once more great patterns - including frozen pond.

As last spot of the morning session we stopped at the White Pine County Road 19 grade crossing which could be seen in the background of the previous images.

Old wooden ore-loading ramps.

View from a ramp.

During lunch break, we left the passenger train at the station.

And changed to an even older vehicle: Coach combination #6, former passenger coach #6 of the Grand Trunk Railroad, produced in 1872 by Pullman. The Nevada Northern Railway bought it second-hand in 1909 and converted it to an outfit car in 1940.

Our train for the rest of the weekend: wooden boxcars and caboose.

I had thought tumbleweeds mostly appeared as cartoon effects in films, but here I saw a lot - mainly single shrubs, sometimes several had joined into the classic ball.
I caught a single one briefly on video: https://youtu.be/W5HFQsdVA0o?t=7m49s

Let's see what the next part will bring - we were about to steam onto the High Line! :)

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Great shots. I especially like the black & white ones of the steam engine.

I did not know that the valley the NN runs through to the north is called Steptoe Valley. It turns out that I have two connections to Col. Steptoe and geography. I rode my motorcycle through Steptoe Valley on my way to Torrey UT in 2003. I have also ridden my motorcycle up Steptoe Butte in eastern Washington.

Despite having a geological formation named after him, Col. Steptoe is a controversial figure in that part of my state due to his confrontations with the local Indian tribes.

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